FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, JUNE 3, 2008
NCDA&CS Gypsy Moth Program Manager
(919) 733-6931, ext. 247 or (800) 206-9333
NCDA&CS to treat gypsy moth infestation in Caswell County
RALEIGH - The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will soon be treating a localized gypsy moth infestation in Caswell County in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and the Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Foundation Inc. The treatment is anticipated to occur between June 9 and 11, depending on weather conditions and insect development.
Field monitoring activities in the county last year determined that a reproducing population of the highly destructive gypsy moth exists and represents a threat to hardwoods.
The 21,094-acre treatment block is located in northeastern Caswell County. It is centered roughly on the town of Milton, which lies at the intersection of N.C. highways 57 and 62, along the Virginia state line. The Dan River, Country Line Creek, Rattlesnake Creek and their tributaries flow through this block.
Mating disruption was determined to be the best option for this treatment block. Prior to the time that adult gypsy moths would normally mate, low-altitude fixed-wing aircraft will apply miniature plastic flakes infused with the naturally occurring gypsy moth pheromone.
Upon application, the gypsy moth pheromone saturates the treatment block so that male gypsy moths are not able to follow the natural pheromone scent trails released by female gypsy moths. This decreases mating success and suppresses the gypsy moth population. The pheromone is not harmful to humans, animals or plants, and it will not affect other insect species.
Gypsy moths feed on the leaves of more than 300 different species of trees and shrubs, predominantly hardwoods. When areas become heavily infested, trees may be completely stripped of foliage, leaving yard trees and entire forests more susceptible to attacks from other pests. Severe infestations often lead to tree death, especially of the more favored host species such as oaks.
Gypsy moth caterpillars can also pose health concerns for people with respiratory problems. The caterpillar hairs and droppings may cause severe allergic reactions in areas with a high density of gypsy moths.
NCDA&CS has addressed spot introductions of the gypsy moth across North Carolina since the 1970s. The department is working with eight other states through the Gypsy Moth Slow the Spread Foundation Inc., and with other state and federal agencies to reduce the expansion of the gypsy moth into uninfested N.C. areas.
Public hearings were held prior to the scheduled aerial treatment to receive input from landowners in and near the treatment block.
For more information, including maps and a description of the proposed treatment area, go to www.ncagr.com/plantindustry/plant/entomology/GM.htm or contact NCDA&CS toll free at (800) 206-9333.